He was startled from his reverie by someone's substantial weight suddenly shifting itself off the bunk above him, into midair, to land a second later on sturdy legs, and with a resounding thud. Tandy grinned lopsidedly at him. "So you're awake, eh, Fex?" he said, pulling a shirt over his head. The names by which the slaves called each other were largely a result of nicknaming - Jaro's own was a take on the word "fix". He was very good with his hands, very good with machines, and very good at convincing the factory's computers (and any other computer he felt up to bothering with) to do nearly anything he wanted it to do. Tandy had been the first person he met here, and he had the strong accent of what had once been Newfoundland. Tandy's own name was due to the younger boy's fondness for ridiculously spicy foods, which were a rarity in the Markets. One of the elders had been reminded of something called Tandoori, and the name had stuck, albeit slightly shortened for the benefit of the more colloquial-minded among them.
Few slaves called each other by their real names anymore - their True Names, as they'd become known. To know a person's True Name was to have some power over them - to know of their past, because some of the records from the old days were jealously guarded by those in power, or to know something of their future, as in Jaro's case. Anyone who knew Jaro's True Name could have gone to Jones, who could then, in turn, have discovered Jaro's birth date - another secret that was jealously guarded by most slaves. Few of them had any real control over anything else. The truth was precious, and dangerous, and was to be carefully protected.
Jaro levered himself up on one elbow. "Yeah, I'm up. Why?"
"Your shift doesn't start for two hours, that's why," Tandy told him, while hunting along the floor for his boots. "Since when do you wake up before you have to?" He reappeared, triumphantly brandishing one boot in the air. "Hah! So?"
Jaro blinked. He had no real answer. Tandy was right. His shift didn't start for two hours, as decreed by the digital clock on the wall, an ever-present creature in the Markets. The clocks controlled everything. Sometimes Jaro wondered whether the sun would halt in the sky if the clocks should go down. He was often tempted to find out.
Why had he awoken? A dream, maybe? A nightmare? If so, why couldn't he remember it? Not even the trace of a dream he'd forgotten already? Nothing. His mind was blank. As if he'd not dreamt anything at all. He scratched his head.
"I don't know," he said honestly. "I guess I had a dream."
Tandy stared at him for a moment, then shrugged. "Well, it's not like you're in any hurry. I'd go back to sleep, if I were you."
"Hm," Jaro agreed distantly as Tandy finished lacing up his boots and slipped his ID tag around his neck. He waved as he vanished through the door.
Jaro blinked into the dim grey of the room for a moment longer, and collapsed back onto his mattress, pulling the covers over his head.